Sometimes we get really blatantly off-topic questions, particularly in the recipe request category. Think of things like "how do I make good X?" with absolutely no detail, no starting recipe, no goals, asked by unregistered users.

Unfortunately, we don't always get five community close votes very quickly, so we mods end up closing them unilaterally. If they just sat there unanswered, we'd be happy to wait for the five votes, but people are often quite eager to answer. I understand the desire to help, but answering off-topic questions can encourage them, and it's sort of skirting around the impending closure. And if the question somehow does get edited to be on-topic, answers written for the original question will likely be totally out of place.

Once the question is closed, the site will then automatically delete it after waiting a couple days to give it a chance to get fixed. Upvoted answers can delay or prevent this, another reason we like to close before answers sneak in - lingering closed questions for folks to find via Google can definitely give them the wrong idea about the site.

In a few cases, I've sped that along by manually deleting the question. I'd prefer not to do that, but sometimes it's clear it won't get fixed but users aren't going to let it sit quietly for a couple days. (Sometimes there's comment discussion angling toward answering the question, especially if answers snuck through before closure.)

Is there anything else y'all would prefer us to do (or not do) in cases like this?

For reference, the relevant criteria for auto-deletion - note in particular that upvoted closed questions with an upvoted or accepted answer will never be autodeleted:

The system will automatically delete closed (not as a duplicate), unlocked questions with zero or negative score having no positively scored or accepted answers or pending reopen votes, that were closed 9 or more days ago and haven't been edited in the past 9 days.

The system will automatically delete unlocked, unanswered questions that have negative score after 30 days.

The system will automatically delete unlocked, unanswered questions with score of zero (or one if the owner is deleted), fewer than 1.5 views per day on average, and fewer than two comments after 365 days.

1 Answer 1


Since this hasn't gotten much attention, I thought I'd go ahead and just post a more clear version of what we're doing:

  • We'll try to wait for community closure whenever possible.
  • If it gets answered, we'll likely immediately close it (answers tend to encourage more answers).
  • Rarely, at our discretion we may delete after closure (whether community or mod closure) - for example, if an answer snuck in and comment discussion keeps up, resulting in effectively continuing to answer a closed question.

A couple things that the community can do to help out with this:

  • Vote to close so we don't have to!
  • Avoid answering questions you know will be closed. The whole thing should be auto-deleted eventually anyway, so you won't get to keep any reputation you might initially collect, and your answer won't be sticking around for future readers.

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